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Pakistan confirms death of top militant leader

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, June 5, IRNA -- Pakistan Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has confirmed reports that a senior al-Qaeda-linked militant Ilyas Kashmiri has died in a US drone strike in South Waziristan tribal region.

The militant ‘Harkatul Jihad al-Islami’ group had already confirmed that its leader was killed in US drone strike in South Waziristan tribal region late Friday night.

Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the most wanted militants to Pakistan and the US, was among nine militants killed in the strike US pilotless aircraft in South Waziristan, the BBC Urdu website had earlier reported.

A purported spokesman for Harkatul Jihad al-Islami, Abu Hanzala, confirmed the death of Kashmiri, the mastermind of the last month brazen attack on navy air station in Karachi, which killed 10 Pakistan navy personnel.

“We confirm the martyrdom of our leader Ilyas Kashmiri in US drone strike,” the spokesman said in hand-written statement sent to local media, Dawn and Express TV channels reported.

“We will take revenge of our leader from the US,” Abu Hanzala said in the statement.

Interior Minister said that ground realities show that Ilyas Kashmiri is no more in the world, Dunya TV reported late Saturday night. He said that the authorities are investigating as to how Kashmiri reached South Waziristan.

Ilyas Kashmiri was killed when he was taking tea with other militants in the village of Laman, some 10 kilometers from Wana, the center of South Waziristan.

Kashmiri was among the five top militants, whose names were given to Pakistani authorities by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Islamabad last month.

The BBC Urdu correspondent in Peshawar, Dilawar Wazir, who also belongs to South Waziristan, said he was told by residents that Kashmiri was among the nine militants killed in the US strike late Friday night.

A resident said that the locals saw bodies of the militants Saturday morning lying in a garden, who had been taking tea when the US aircraft fired missiles.

The locals buried the bodies on Saturday in the same area.

Security sources said that Kashmiri and other senior militants recently arrived in Waziristan from Khyber tribal region.

Ilyas Kashmiri, head of the Harkatul Jihad al-Islami, was considered very close to al-Qaeda. He was also thought to be the next al-Qaeda chief after the death of Osama bin Laden.

The strike came days after Pakistan and the US formed a joint intelligence network to hunt down the militants.

The US had handed over a list of five top militant leaders which besides Kashmir include Mullah Mohammad Omar, Aiman al-Zwahiri, Atiya Abdur Rahman and Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Kashmiri, who belongs to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, was believed to be the mastermind of series of major attacks on Pakistani security forces and installations. The attacks include the last month’s audacious attack on the navy air base in Karachi and the 2009 attack on the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi.

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Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30417399



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